Sun | Oct 1, 2023

Class One sprint outsiders emerge at Central Champs

Published:Monday | March 6, 2023 | 12:23 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Javoon Blair  of Manchester High.
Javoon Blair of Manchester High.
St Jago’s Raheem Pinnock
St Jago’s Raheem Pinnock

No one could blame you if you have picked Bouwahjgie Nkrumie, Deandre Daley, and Bryan Levell to dominate the Class One sprints at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs), which begin on March 28 at the National Stadium.

After all, those three sprinters have impressive accomplishments and fast times under their belts. However, the March 1 and 2 renewal of Central Championships revealed two outsiders who might capitalise if the big three falter: Javoon Blair of Manchester High School and Raheem Pinnock of St Jago High School.

Blair clocked a personal best – 10.47 seconds – in the Central Championships 100 metres heats and won the final after a slouchy start.

“He has not yet put together the start at the 100m. Pretty much his season is a little bit slow. We have been having a lot of ups and downs in training, mostly his fault, based on how he attends training,” assessed his coach, Dwayne Jarrett.

Though he isn’t yet at his sharpest, the tall Manchester High School speed ace is fit.

“We have a lot more quarter-mile strength under his feet, so his top end is really there, but his start is not yet there as how we want it, but we have four weeks to fix things and try to get it right,” Jarrett analysed.

The coach was gratified by Blair’s run in the heats.

“What I was impressed about most was the 10.47 in the heats with a plus 1.5 wind. Now he has run 10.70 with a negative wind. That goes to show he’s in that 10.4 shape”, the former Vere Technical coach calculated, “so I think it’s going to take at Champs 10.2, 10.3, in that mix to get into the finals.”

A finalist in Class Two at Champs, Blair is a project for the coach.

“I think this is his first victory at any major championship. He has been second here before. He was second here last year, and he’s now the winner. He was fourth at Champs in Class Two, so we’re just going to take it from stride to stride and see how we end up,” the coach said.

Blair lined up as the 200m favourite on March 2 but lost to Pinnock, who held him off in the closing stages with a time of 21.31 seconds. That is his fastest time ever.

“What I did was I got out 70 per cent. I used the rest of my strength to power through in the last 100m, sir. So when I got off the curve, I wasn’t the first one to enter the straight,” the St Jago sprinter recounted. Blair lost the silver to Edwin Allen’s Antonio Powell, the 2022 Central Class Two 400m champion.

In 2021, Pinnock was a Class Two 200m finalist at Champs and has served his school as a reliable member of fast 4x100m and 4x400m teams. Therefore, it was no surprise when he returned with strong legs to boost St Jago to gold medals in both relays.